Welcome on the website of the Flemish Bowhunting Association (FBA)
Hunting with the bow and arrow exists as long as memory of mankind goes. Archaeological evidence shows that hunting game by means of bow and arrow happened already more than 25.000 years ago. Just like with the discovery and use of fire and the wheel, also this fantastic tool has accelerated human development. On nearly all continents mankind hunted and hunts successfully with the bow and arrow. In the middle ages this tool was applied as a formidable weapon for warfare and large battles were decided in favor thanks to the archers. In witness of this the battle of Agincourt (1415) where the French army of mounted knights was defeated by a small English army with a relative large number of archers. When gunpowder was introduced, the bow and arrow faded away and got forgotten... until around 1900. In the United States of America, when fate brought a passionate hunter (Saxton Pope) in contact with a native American (Ishi), modern bowhunting was born.
From that day on, bowhunting is an integral part of the culture of the United States and many countries follow their example. The first dedicated bowhunting season was introduced in Wiscouncin in 1936. The first European country that followed was Yugoslavia, followed by Denmark etc. In the meantime it is already a long list of countries that legalized bowhunting. France is in this respect a beautiful example and a wonderful land for bowhunting. Many bowhunting Belgians go to France to practice their passion of bowhunting. France introduced and described bowhunting explicitely into their hunting laws 1995 and it where the hunters themselves who asked for legalization although they were hunting many years before with the bow and arrow. With evolving technology, France adapted their hunting laws in order to follow new developments on bowhunting equipment. Also wildlife management finds its way towards bowhunting. A very positive aspect of bowhunting is that this way of hunting doesn't disturb other, non game, animals during the hunt. A bowhunter is virtually silent, blending in in the forest... Also, the effective range of an arrow is around 50 meters, which makes bowhunting very much suited for hunting or game control in suburban, more densely populated and recreative areas.
The bow and arrow are suitable for all game types and all ways of hunting can be done with the bow and arrow. In a battue, when the game is driven towards the hunters, bowhunters are positioned in treestands, 3 to 7 meters above the ground and effectively shoot game that passes by. Still hunting, stalking and glassing are also extremely suited for bowhunting, although this requires a much larger knowledge of the behaviour of the game and of the terrain as the effective range of an arrow is many times smaller than that of the gun. As a result of a study performed in the United States where for a given period every bowhunter needed to complete a questionnaire when he shot a game animal, it was concluded that the average distance at which a game animal was shot is 15 meters. This shows one of the major differences between the hunting with the bow and arrow and hunting with a gun. Not only needs a bowhunter to be a very good marksman, he will need the skills to get much much closer to the animals than hunters with guns need to do. It is this increased level of difficulty, this increased challenge that makes bowhunting so attravtive to many men and women.
Another fundamental difference between bowhunting and classic hunting with a gun is the way how an arrow, supplied with a breadhead, kills the animal. Although this might surprise many unfamiliar with bowhunting, an arrow will traverse an animal completely almost in all cases. When doing so, the razor sharp broadhead will cut every vein and artery on its trajectory causing a very sudden blood pressure drop causing the animal to faint and very quickly die. So even though the kinetic energy of a arrow is many times less that of a bullet, it is used in such an efficient way that is is at least as efficient as a bullet. The successful bowhunter knows perfectly the anatomy of each of the game animals he or she hunts and will always place the broadhead with surgical precision for maximal efficiency so that both longs and/or heart are hit, causing a massive bleeding, instant blood pressure drop and swift dead.
Many classic gun hunters are pleasantly surprised when they witness the efficiency of an arrow when they meet a bowhunter. A simple and easy thought experiment is to ask people to open their hands and ask if they would keep they hand to catch a falling bullet. Most will do this. But when asked to do the same for a falling arrow equiped with a razor sharp broadhead, all people see immediately the different mode of action and the efficiency of the arrow. Anther convincing experiment is to shoot with a gun at 2 buckets, placed one after the other, filled with sand. Every hunting bullet of any size will stop in the first bucket, while the arrow will even shoot though the second bucket.
What is the current situation of bowhunting in Belgium, more specifically in Flanders and Wallonie? In Flanders it is not legal to hunt with the bow and arrow as the bow and arrow are not registered in the Flemish hunting laws as a legal tool for hunting or game control. Although in Wallonie it is a gray area in the hunting law, it is not advised to do so.
The purpose of the Flemish Bowhunting Association (FBA vzw) is to be a clear and unambiguous point of reference for both the hunter who is interested in bowhunting and for the buwhunters themselves. We are putting together a dossier with factual information based on decades of bowhunting experience, enabling the law makers and decision makers to incorporate the bow and arrow as a legal tool for the use in hunt and game management.
So, how do we do this? Well, since 2013, 4 Flemish bowhunting instructors graduated in the International Bowhunting Education Program (IBEP) instructor course and 3 new instructors are being trained in IBEP. This is an international recognized organisation who's ambition it is to form good and responsible bowhunters. These instructors train responsible bowhunters and only those candidates who succeed in both the theoretical and practical test and therefor demonstrated that they are skillful bowhunters, obtain the IBEP certificate. The instructors will be happy to give information to everybody who wishes information regarding bowhunting. In the second half of 2013, for the first time a 100% Flemish course was given to new bowhunters. With the great success of this Flemish course, the available places were quickly taken and in the same year, a second Flemish bowhunting course was given. Also in 2014 at least two IBEP bowhunting courses will be organized. This shows the large interest in this way of hunting.
We are not alone for this. We are supported by our sister organisation the " Fédération Wallonne des Chasseurs a L'Arc (FWCA)". This is a Walloon bowhunting organisation from wich the Flemish branch originated. Together we support bowhunting education in Belgium by means of structured education, training sessions, thematic courses, etc.
More information about the internationally renowned IBEP education can be found at the website of the National Bowhunting Education Foundation (NBEF): www.nbef.org
All information regarding bowhunting in Europe, the list of countries where bowhunting is legalized, specialized legislation regarding bowhunting etc. can be found at the website of the European Bowhunting Federation (EBF): www.europeanbowhunting.org
It is with great pleasure that we, as the Flemish Bowhunting Association (FBA), will provide you all information you require regarding hunting with the bow and arrow.